Sunday, November 30, 2014

Workshops, Seminars, and Conferences...OH MY!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Looking to get CEUs, new ideas, or just be with your colleagues?  Think about attending a workshop, seminar, or conference next year!!  I have included links to conferences in the areas of at-risk youth, disabilities, girl bullying, conflict resolution, innovative counseling techniques, peer helping, trauma and lots more!  Please feel free to share this list with your colleagues.

Please enjoy!


Perseverance Process
January 9, 2015
Search Institute
Minneapolis, MN

Wired Differently
January 12, 2015
Tampa, FL

Wired Differently
January 14, 2015
Jacksonville, FL

Helping Young People Learn Self Regulation
January 15, 2015
Pittsburgh, PA 

Helping Young People Learn Self Regulation
January 16, 2015
Philadelphia, PA

Wired Differently
January 16, 2015
Memphis, TN

Wired Differently
January 20, 2015
San Francisco, CA

Mean Girls Seminar
January 20, 2015
Tucson, AZ

Mean Girls Seminar
January 20, 2015
Austin, TX

Mean Girls Seminar
January 21, 2015
Anaheim, CA

Mean Girls Seminar
January 21, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Wired Differently
January 21, 2015
Seattle, WA

Difficult Students Seminar
January 21, 2015
Charleston, SC

Difficult Students Seminar
January 22, 2015
Greenville, SC

Difficult Students Seminar
January 23, 2015
Knoxville, TN

Mean Girls Seminar
January 23, 2015
Fresno, CA

Mean Girls Seminar
January 23, 2015
Columbus, OH

Wired Differently
January 23, 2015
Edmonton, AB

National Peer Helper Conference
January 21-23, 2015
Point Clear, AL

Helping Young People Learn Self-Regulation
January 23, 2015
Minneapolis, MN

Mean Girls Seminar
January 26, 2015
Portland, OR

Helping Young People Learn Self-Regulation
January 26, 2015
Omaha, NE

Difficult Students Seminar
January 26, 2015
Tulsa, OK


Time to Thrive
February 13-15, 2015
Portland, OR

Risk Youth National Forum
February 15-18, 2015
Myrtle Beach, SC

National Conference on Bullying
February 24-27, 2015
Orlando, FL

National At-Risk Youth Conference
March 1-4, 2015
Savannah, GA

American Counseling Association
March 12-15, 2015
Orlando, FL

Evidence Based School Counseling Conference
March 26-27. 2015
Erlanger, KY


New Jersey School Counselor Association Spring Conference
April 10, 2015
Union, NJ

National Suicidology Conference
April 15-18, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Freedom Network Conference
April 21-22, 2015
Washington DC


Licensed Professional Association of Georgia
May 7-10, 2015
Augusta, GA


International Conflict Resolution Summit
June 17-22, 2015
Arlington, VA

Girl Bullying Conference
June 22-24, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

National Conference on School Discipline
June 22-24, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

American School Counselor Conference
June 28-July 1, 2015
Phoenix, AZ

National Conference on School Discipline
June 29-July 1, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Wired Differently Conference
July 29-July 1, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Innovative Counseling Conference
June 29-July 1, 2015
Atlanta, GA


National Alliance on Mental Illness Conference
July 6-9, 2015
San Francisco, CA

National Autism Conference
July 8-11, 2015
Denver, CO

National Conference on School Discipline
July 15-17. 2015
Niagara Falls, NY

National School Safety Conference
July 27-31, 2015
Las Vegas, NV


NACAC National Conference
October 1-3, 2015
San Diego, CA

Association for Conflict Resolution
October 7-10, 2015
Reno, NV


National At-Risk Youth Conference
November 6-8, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Please message me to add conferences to this site @

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rockin' Tech Tools For School Counselors in 2015!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Okay, I admit it...I am a child of the 80's and I love rock music.  In fact, I love rock music so much that all my children know the words for the 1987 Whitesnake album (you know the song "Here I Go Again"with the girl turning cartwheels on the Jaguars in the video).  Well, if you were born after this period, you probably don't care about big hair or leather pants; however, you will care about these rocking technology tools I plan to use or continue using in 2015!!

Here She Goes Again!!

Digital Parent Conference

Typically parents who do not show up for parent nights or conferences are usually not the parents who need our assistance.  So, what is a possible solution to connecting to our absentee parents?  One answer is to hold a digital workshop or conference with your parents. How do you hold an online conference you ask?  The answer is through....wait for it...Google Hangout

Once parents hear about the hangout, they will want more!
Honestly, I have been a little hesitant about using Google Hangout at my work, but why not? A great feature of Google Hangout is that it allows you to record the meeting and share it with the parents who may have missed the information. 

 Special note: I would not share private or sensitive information on Google Hangout, but you can share general information that parents need to know.

Now a Video: How Google Hangout works for holding a conference.

Sending Messages to Parents

I have tried many ways to get information to parents, but I always seem to miss someone.  However, the tools below may be the ones that allow me to cover a large group of parents and students without a lot of effort.
Getting information to parents quickly and efficiently makes me jump for joy!
  • Portfoliyo - A convenient way to send quick messages to individual parents, groups of parents, or students.

  • School Circle - A versatile communication tool that can be used by individual counselors, school counseling departments, or districts to distribute information, forms, events, and messages to parents.  I am really going to set up one for our counseling department and I will link it to my blog for you to view.

  • Volunteer Spot - A free website to send invites for parent meetings and/or school events.  Also, you can use the site to plan events, get students/parents to RSVP, and send reminders.  LOVE this!!
In addition to tools, I am always looking for resources to make my conferences more informative.  For individual conferences, I found a form you can create on Teachnology.
  • Pinterest - The ultimate parent conference resource page for those of you who want more information!
Organization and Access to Documents

Organization and accessing documents anywhere is really important for school counselors.  The winner, for me, is Google Docs and Forms!
Google Docs and Forms Rock!!
  • Google Docs and Forms - Google Docs is a great alternative to Microsoft Word because it stores your documents/forms for easy access and sharing with colleagues. 
Check out Natalie from the Urban Educator and her posts on using Google Forms for school counselors to collect data.  View her blog to see how you can create data from your forms! 

Now, another video: How to use Google forms.

Presentation Tools

Great presentation tools are a must for school counselors so I am always on the look out for tools that provide simplicity and lots of options. Here is a new tool that I found to be very easy to use.
  • Emaze - Select a online template to create an exciting cloud based presentation for your audience. 
Check out my friend and rock star, Carol Miller (The Middle School Counselor) to see her E-M-A-Z-I-N-G presentation!
Check out Carol's is amazing!!

Data Collection Tools

Yes, I said the D word.  However, you must collect data as it can be your best friend.  Our district has not stressed the collection of data, but we have decided as a department to be proactive. Some tools you can use include:
Using data in your counseling department is smart!!
  • Raw - Website that collects your data and creates vector graphics.

  • Google Poll - Poll your students, parents, and staff to find out their position on an issue.

The end of the blog, but continue to rock on and share your knowledge!

Are there any tools you are using that you can share with school counselors?  Please feel free to share!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Remedy for Black Friday? #GivingTuesday!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Awww Thanksgiving!  What a wonderful day to fill up on my favorite foods, see my family, and then lay around on the couch watching football with my husband.  In my family, the Thanksgiving festivities last from Wednesday to Sunday because we must travel to my in-laws for her famous turkey and roast beef and then to my family for another turkey dinner. After our first feast, we try to decide if we want to face the Black Friday crowds that start the "hectic holidays".  After Thanksgiving, I usually find myself complaining about our hectic schedule, how I ate way too much, that I hate to face holiday shopping crowds, and all the exercising that I will need to do to work off all that delicious food I had the privilege of eating. 

Me and my oldest daughter
heading to the in-laws for Thanksgiving

Is it my imagination or is "Thanksgiving" becoming "Selfgiving"?  If you share a similar storyline as the one above, you may experience a little Thanksgiving hangover from being overindulgent.  What really got me thinking about my own behavior was a conversation my husband and I had one morning this week as we were making preparations for Thanksgiving.  As we were discussing our busy week of travel, we realized that we were complaining and being a little ungrateful.  My husband, being the wise man that he has always been, looked at me and said, "You know we are a culture addicted to comfort". That statement definitely stuck with me and has made me realize that I need to do a little self reflection about what is really important. 

Gratitude and Giving

During my time of self reflection, I came across a blog by Kait Sheridan about sharing a Gratitude Gram with others.  As I read her blog, Kait shared some great studies about the importance of gratitude. In a study published by Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, California, Dr. Robert Emmons found that expressing gratitude in your daily life can:
add seven years to your life,
improve your mental and physical health,
make you more generous!

Since it is the advent of the holiday season, we should all begin searching for ways to express our gratitude. In my opinion, one great way to do this is by GIVING to others on #GivingTuesday!

What is #GivingTuesday?

According to NPR, #GivingTuesday began in 2012 by a nonprofit organization in New York City called 92nd Street Y.  The specific goal of #GivingTuesday is to encourage organizations, schools, businesses, and individuals to donate to charities and participate in community service projects. Since its inception, #GivingTuesday has really taken off and offers a lot of great ideas of how we all can give to others. What I love, as a school counselor, is that we can teach our students that giving to others is more satisfying than always receiving.  Promoting #GivingTuesday in your school is a great way to make giving a part of your school culture.

If you are interested in learning about #GivingTuesday and how to use it in your school, check out the following videos from the #GivingTuesday website.

#GivingTuesday Ideas

Do you or your students want to participate, but don't know how?  The #GivingTuesday website provides some simple and easy ideas to get started.

1.  Send an #UNselfie

What is an #UNselfie? 

Take a picture of yourself with a caption of how you and/or students will help others this year.

Share it on your social media to spread the word.  Here are some examples of an #UNselfie...

Download the kit for more information!!

#UNselfie Kit

2. Share suggested tweets about #GivingTuesday with your followers.

Wondering what #GivingTuesday is all about? It’s a global day of giving for everyone. Join @GivingTues:

#GivingTuesday is a day for everyone, everywhere, to GIVE in their own way! Learn more about @GivingTues:

We’re redefining giving this holiday season! Join the #GivingTuesday movement & make a difference in your community.

It’s almost #GivingTuesday! TELL US @GivingTues: What are you doing to give back?

What is #GivingTuesday? A day TUE give! Get it? #humor

Happy #GivingTuesday! It doesn’t matter how much you give Or what you give Only that you give

Happy #GivingTuesday! Celebrate by donating to any of our amazing @GivingTues partners:

Help spread the word! Share the <3 It's #GivingTuesday:

Join the worldwide celebration of #GivingTuesday! Follow @GivingTues and learn more:

Today is #GivingTuesday! TELL US @GivingTues: How are you making a difference in your community?

Have you taken your #GivingTuesday #UNselfie? Tell us why you’re part of this global day of giving! Take an #UNselfie and share what you’re doing this #GivingTuesday w/ @GivingTues!
Social Media Kit

3.  Participate in Giving Tuesday Events.

4.  #ThankYouWednesday Webinar.

5.  Involve your students by teaching gratitude and giving!!

Check out this great informational video about how to use #GivingTuesday as a leadership and community service tool in your school.

Need a lesson plan?  Here is a nine week lesson plan you can use if you have a peer helper group.

Nine Week Lesson Plan on Giving

Please share your #UNselfies with me by following me on Twitter @c_morton!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

December Webinars and Chats for School Counselors

Tuesday, November 25, 2014



Upcoming Webinars & Chats

#SCCHAT Holiday Assistance Programs
Moderated by Andrea Burston and Carol Miller

December 2, 2014 @ 8 pm

Educating Teens on Drug Facts

December 3, 2014 @ 12 pm EST


December 8, 2014 @ 8:30 pm EST

Peer Helper Chat (#peerprograms)

December 10, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

Safe Routes to School as a Tool to Address Chronic Absenteeism

Mon, Dec 15, 2014 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM EST

From Discipline to Dialogue: Engaging Student Voice


Archived Webinars

Child Trafficking and Juvenile Justice

School to Prison Pipeline: An Overview of the Issues and Potential Solutions


No Taking It Back...A Plethora of Teen Sextortion Lesson Plans, Resources, and Videos for School Counselors!

Over the last five years, I have seen an increase in the number of students sending scandalous images of themselves and/or others via social media. One of the most disturbing incidences that came to our office was of a student and her boyfriend who was living together in a basement apartment. While the girl was in the shower, the neighbor upstairs videotaped her and posted her images on the internet.  Shortly after that situation, one of my students sent a video of herself topless to a guy friend.  Months later, the video was posted to a website where she was publically exposed to her classmates and family members. In another incident, a video was taken and sent of two students performing a sexual act.  After the video was sent, a huge blowup occurred in the classroom.  Then there was a huge incident where nude photos of female students from several schools in our area were posted on Instagram with derogatory comments.  The posts were so disgusting that several police agencies were called in to dismantle the posts. I could continue to list situation after situation, but you get the picture.  In all these situations, the students and families became victims of self and peer extortion and our school and law enforcement had to find quick answers.

Peer/Self Extortion ...aka Sexting

The act of sexting has become part of the American teen culture within the last three years. Beyond Borders defines sexting as "youth creating, sending or sharing sexual images and/or videos with peers via the internet and/or electronic devices." Teens are willing to send nude pictures of themselves as a precursor to having sex. In fact, law enforcement officer, Eric Buehler,  refers to sexting as the new first base! 

Although the mean age of sexting is 16 years old, it is middle school age students who are very willing to share with others on social media. Why would a student expose him/herself.  There are several reasons for sending out risqué images and messages: 

Wanting to experiment sexually;
 Seeking attention and acceptance from peers;
 Feeling pressured or coerced by peers.

Even if a student does not actively engage in sending explicit pictures or texts, he/she may be exploited without his/her knowledge.  For instance, photos or videos can be recorded at a sleepover or party, a webcam may be hacked and images sent out to their contacts someone steals the device of a student and sends them out to their contacts, or a person pretends to be someone he or she is not to entice another person to send photos to him or her ("catfishing"). The act of sending images of a person without their knowledge is called sextortion and is a type of sexual bullying.

There are many examples of sextortion cases that have gained national attention since 2010.

Christopher Patrick Gunn
Christopher Gunn, 31, either posed as Justin Beiber or a new boy at school to entice girls to send explicit pictures to him.  In his ruse as a new student, he would often threaten to send the intimate conversations to the girls' principal if they refused to send photos.
Jonathan Vance, 24, was able to hack into the Facebook, email, and Myspace accounts of over 50 females in three states by pretending to be a friend or relative.  He would persuade the girls to give him access to their passwords and log into their accounts.
Anthony Stancl, 19, posed as young girl on Facebook and persuaded 30 male classmates in sending him nude photos.
Consequences of Sextortion
Because victims of sextortion are often embarrassed about their involvement, they often fail to report any information about the perp. Teens who experience this type of exposure tend to socially withdraw, become anxious, use drugs and alcohol, suffer from depression, and some even commit suicide.  One of the saddest cases I have come across regarding sextortion was the story of Canadian teen, Amanda Todd.  
Amanda Todd experienced sexual bullying after she met a stranger online who convinced her to flash him.  A year later,  a man on Facebook threatened to send her topless photo to others if she did not "put on a show." Even though she complied with his demands, the nude photo was sent to her peers at her school.  Amanda began to become anxious, used drugs to numb her sadness, and even moved schools. After several incidents of bullying at her new school, Amanda died of suicide.

How can School Counselors Make an Impact?

For school counselors, it can be overwhelming to deal with drama in school much less deal with students' drama online!!  However, drama online can have a huge impact in our schools. Here are some strategies for school counselors to use in their school:

1.  Conduct a tech abuse campaign during the month of February during Dating Violence Awareness Month.


Veto Violence - resources on violence for educators.
Our Revolution Teen Conversation Guide for Facilitators
Teen Revolution Conversation Cards
Our Revolution Posters
Relationship Rights and Responsibilities
Abusive Behavior Brochure
Technology and Relationships
Cellular Relationships
Our Revolution Instagram Cards
Love and Respect Guide-Created by Teens in New Mexico

2.  In classroom guidance, educate students on cyber bullying and how to keep themselves safe online.


Digital Footprint Lesson Plan
Secondary Lesson Plans/Handouts from Anti-Defamation League
Common Sense Media-Overexposed Sexting Lesson Plan
Tips for Avoiding Online Sextortion

3.  Use high school peer helpers/educators to educate middle schoolers about sending sexts that are over the line. MTV provides a website that allows students to rate texts as under the line, on the line, or over the line. 

Here is an example of a text that students must rate:

i think i may be gay and kissed a straight guy whos my best friend when i was drunk?! he avodied me for a month and we're just now starting to talk again?! what should i think

 4. Book a Teen Angel presentation rather than having an adult talk about cyber safety and privacy. You can even start your own chapter.

Teen Angels - Teen Angels are a group of 13-18 year old students who are specially trained in online safety, privacy and security.

Forming a Teen Angel Chapter

5.  Give teens the tools to protect themselves at home.  There are some great sites that provide teens with callout cards to send out to perps.  Here is one I really like...

6.  Inform teens about the law and consequences for sexting and sexual bullying.

"Currently, sexting falls under the State of Georgia’s child pornography laws. In general, a teenager, who creates, distributes or possesses a sexually explicit image, could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts and circumstances. If convicted for a felony, the sentence could be up to 20 years in prison, and the teenager’s name would appear on Georgia's sex offender registry for at least 15 years."

Acts of Sexual Bullying or Sextortion under Georgia law include:

  • Compiles, enters into, or transmits by means of computer or other electronic device;
  • Makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other computerized or other electronic device;
  • Causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by means of computer or other electronic device;
  • Buys, sells, receives, exchanges, or disseminates any notice, statement, or advertisement, or any child´s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for the purpose of offering or soliciting sexual conduct of or with an identifiable child or the visual depiction of such conduct;
  • Use of an electronic device to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by such person to be a child to commit a sexually explicit act. Conviction for this offense is a felony, unless the victim is 14 or 15 years of age and the offender is no more than 3 years older than the victim in which case the crime is a misdemeanor, and carries a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

  • 7.  Educate students about they do if they receive a nude photo?

    Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce

    8. Talk to your administration about investing in evidence based social emotion learning programs, bullying prevention and education, peer education, peer mediation, and restorative justice programs.

    9. Team with your school resource office to educate staff on sexual bullying and what steps they need to take in your school community.

    Role of SRO in Cyberbullying

    10.  Educate parents!  Teach students and parents about maintaining their student's digital footprint by setting up Google alerts, periodically checking their child's name online, remove negative remarks and photos from social media, etc.

     Safety Brochure-Self Exploitation

    11. Help students report incidents and create a safety plan.  Check out the Cyberbullying Tracking Form.  Great resource!!

    Help for Teens:

    Wired Safety - This website provides information for educators, parents, and teens on how to stop online abuse.

    Protect Yourself from Ratting - Ratting is when perps use malware to takeover your webcam.  This is a great guide for students!

    Video Chat and Webcam Safety

    How to Stop Bullying on Social Media

    Need Help Now/Canada - Helps teens remove photos and information from online sites.

    Send This Instead- App that allows teens to send funny messages when asked for inappropriate photos or texts.  Great resource!!

    Childline-British site with great information of what to do when someone sends you photos, how to delete photos, how to report someone, what to send instead, and how to keep the chat flirty, not dirty.

    Additional Resources for Educators:

    Digital Citizenship for High School Students - includes videos, definitions, journals, tips, information for parents, legal consequences.  Great Resource!!

    Unhealthy Relationships and Internet Safety-educate students on the differences between a healthy and unhealthy relationship online.
    Online Luring-discover how predators groom students to send online photos to them.

    Take 25 Resource Guide for High School Students
    Please share any resources or ideas you have on this topic!!

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    A Tutorial on Responding to High Conflict Parents

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Is it just me or have you noticed an increase in high conflict parents in your school?  Not too long ago, I was walking through the front office and a parent with three small children in tow came flying through the front office door demanding to see the principal.  The secretary regretfully told the parent that the principal was out of the building and asked if she could help.  The parent was very cross and informed the secretary that she wanted to see someone now!!  Feeling really uncomfortable, I walked out of the office and toward the counseling suite. As I was walking down the hall, one of our administrators asked the parent to step in another office to talk about the issue. On the way to that office, I heard the parent shout that the school was mistreating her child and she wanted something done about it today!  As the assistant principal was trying to explain the reason for the student's discipline, the parent started hurling expletives in front of her children and everyone else in the office. At this point, I am asking myself what made this parent so irate that she would lose all sense of civility?

    In my school, I have definitely noticed an increase in bad behavior in parents.  Students' bad behavior I understand, but parents?  What could be the explanation for this rise of incivility in schools?  Of course, our brain plays a large part in our reaction to danger.  The amygdala or the reptilian brain controls our response to danger and if we should run away or fight back.
    HCPs have little to no ability to regulate emotions
    Bill Eddy, founder of the High Conflict Institute, states that high conflict people, like our parent, have never learned the skill of emotional regulation so it becomes their go to response when they feel threatened.

    According to Bill Eddy, some characteristics to remember about high conflict people or parents (HCPs) include:
    • They have all-or-nothing thinking: High conflict people/parents believe that situations will always turn out badly if others do not handle them the way they want. If school professionals disagree, they may verbally attack and take the a situation up to the next level (i.e. calling the superintendent's office) - again an all-or-nothing solution.

    • They have unmanaged emotions: As in the case of our parent in the office, high conflict people tend to become very emotional and often catch staff members by surprise with their behaviors (i.e. anger, yelling, or disrespect for those nearby). Since their behavior takes everyone off guard, we are often unable to react in the manner they expect.

    • They have extreme behaviors: High conflict people/parents have extreme behaviors which include losing control over their emotions or exerting control by threatening extreme actions if they feel they are being mistreated.

    • They tend to blame others: High conflict people/parents have a history of blaming others like people in authority positions (i.e. administrators). They tend to take issues personally and feel like life will not be the same if things don’t go their way; therefore, they attack, blame, and find fault even in minor incidents. However, they tend to see themselves as blameless and having little to no responsibility for the problem.
    Mr. Eddy found that 15% of Americans are intent on blaming others for their problems and this percentage is growing in our society. It is important that schools understand the psychology behind handling parents who are prone to this type of behavior. As a school counselor of high conflict parents, you can prepare yourself and other staff members how to respond to them.

    Always Be Ready for HCP Fallout!
    How to Prepare for High Conflict Parents?

    1.  Understand you are a target of blame

    Blaming others helps high conflict parents feel stronger; however, the blaming behavior causes them constant distress. Since they often cannot see the connection between their behavior and their problems, their behavior continues and the conflict with others grows.

    2.  High conflict parents have high conflict personalities

    Please understand that your high conflict parent's behavior did not just start when their kids started your school--they have always argued against feedback, tried to persuade others to agree with their points of view, and stress always follows them from school to school.

    3. Reduce their Mistaken Assessment of Danger or M.A.D.

    Try not to be threatening and realize that the parent may be operating out of a life-long history of feeling victimized.  See the pattern of behavior for HCPs.

    4.  Set Limits on Behavior that’s Aggressively Defensive or B.A.D The most effective ways to stop bad behavior is to show empathy and concern for the person, explain the reasons why the specific behaviors need to be stopped, and spell out the potential consequences if it continues. You can tell the parent that you regret addressing their behavior, but you want to help them and other behaviors will be more effective at getting him/her what he/she wants.

    5. Avoid Giving Negative Feedback It is natural for us to resist parents' bad behavior, but with high conflict parents this feeds their misperception of danger and triggers more defensive behaviors. Instead of giving negative feedback, Mr. Eddy suggests focusing on reducing emotional threats, setting matter-of-fact limits on their behavior, and communicating that you want to help them. Demonstrating a true desire to help can make a positive difference with a high conflict parent.
    6.  Don't try to persuade them by using logic Many professionals try to urge high conflict parents to turn off their emotions and stop their behaviors. Trying to persuade them to think differently only triggers their defensiveness and bad behavior.
    7. Use Empathy, Attention, & Respect (E.A.R.)
    Many high conflict parents are used to rejection, insults, and being ignored by school staff; therefore, they are expecting this same treatment when they come into your office.  As the school counselor, you have an opportunity to connect with them and help them with their issue by being empathetic, listening to their story, and providing respectful communication.
    8.  Remember, it is not about you!  This is really difficult for us touchy feely people, but if you can remain calm, the brain has mirroring neurons that mirror the behavior of others.  Therefore, it is important that you take deep breaths, calm yourself, and engage your pre-frontal cortex before engaging with a high conflict parent!
    9.  Keep in mind, the issue is not the issue with high conflict parents
    It's their inability to manage their own emotions and behavior that is the cause of their stress, not you!

    I hope this tutorial on HCPs (parents)  has been helpful for you as a school counselor.  Being prepared for their behaviors with specific skills can make meeting with a HCP a little less stressful.   
    The High Conflict Institute provides webinars and training on dealing with high conflict people whether in person or on an email.  Check out Mr. Eddy's site!


    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Using Talking or Counseling Circles to Discuss "Hot" Issues in Schools

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    As a school counselor, you have the unique skills that allow you to help students process their thoughts and feelings. Rarely are students able to share thoughts on sensitive issues and topics in a safe place.  With the Ferguson indictment decision looming, many schools are not sure of the reaction of their students and community members.  If you are in a school that is not prepared for the outcome of decision when it hits the media, you might want to consider becoming proficient in the restorative circle approach to deal with intense emotions in your high school. 

    What are talking or counseling circles?

    Circles were used by Native Americans as a conflict resolution tool to help build and maintain healthy communities.  This approach was adopted by schools to create a safe space where students and staff can share their feelings and experiences.

    How are circles established?

    Circles can be conducted in a classroom, in your office, or as a counseling group. 

    1.  A circle is created where everyone is treated as an equal.
    2.  A talking piece (ball, stuffed animal, or any object that you have in your office) is used to invite participants to speak. While that person speaks, everyone in the circle practices active listening. 
    3.  Center piece is an object that sits in the middle of the circle. Some meaningful pieces include notecards written by the students, pictures that represent them, or objects students bring from home.  The center piece helps the students focus on the purpose of the circle.
    4.  Opening and closing session
    • The opening session allows students to separate the circle from the regular school day and may start with a poem, song, quote, or story.
    • Closing session may acknowledge the work and progress of the group.
    5.  The keeper or facilitator is responsible for maintaining the safety of the circle, introducing the process, and facilitating dialogue.  As students become more comfortable with the process, they may become responsible for bringing the talking piece or center piece and participating in the opening or closing session.

    Using a Circle Approach for the Ferguson, Missouri Case

    How would the circle look for the case involving Michael Brown from Missouri?  The Morningside Center has written a lesson plan to use with students.

    1.  Conduct an opening ceremony (moment of silence for Michael Brown).  You could also hold a moment of silence for any youth who has died violently.

    2.  Summarize what happened in Ferguson and ask the students to tell you what they know about the shooting.  Some questions that can be asked include:
    • What can you tell me about what happened to Michael Brown on August 9th?
    • What do you know about Michael Brown as a person?
    • What has happened in Ferguson, MO since his death?
    Explain to the students what facts have been reported about the Michael Brown case.

    After talking about the case, pass the talking piece around and ask the questions above.  When all have spoken, summarize the information from the students.

    3.  Ask the students about how they feel about what happened in Ferguson and have them write their thoughts on an index card.

    4.  Have the students count off by twos and face their partner. Each person will have two minutes to talk about how they felt about what happened in Ferguson.  After four minutes, invite students back to the circle and ask volunteers to share their feelings and why they felt that way.

    5. Give the students an excerpt about the case and ask students to respond to the reading by sending the talking piece around the circle.

    Some questions can include:
    • What does the article say about race relations in Ferguson?
    • According to the article, who/what are the protestors protesting about/against?
    6.  Provide a narrative for students to read about race relations in the US and in the circle ask:
    • What does the article say about Ferguson in context to the rest of the US?
    • What does the article say about race relations in the US?
    • How does race relations affect you personally?
    7.  In the closing ceremony, ask the students to share one question or issue they would like to discuss in the next circle.

    Preparing for a Circle

    Introduction to Circles by Morningside Center
    What Happened in Ferguson and Why?
    Teaching Restorative Practices in the Classroom with Circles
    Restorative Practices Resources
    Restorative Practices Poster
    Restorative Practices Questions Poster
    Restorative Practices Card
    Restoring Justice
    Teaching Tolerance Restorative Inquiry Worksheet

    Example of a Circle Process from Oakland Schools


    Restorative Circles in the Classroom
    Circle Prompts
    Circle Scripts
    Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth

    Introduction to Restorative Justice, Dec.10th - Ft. Wayne, IN

    Do you have any information you can share with counselors on how you approach hot button issues with your students?